Rob Gronkowski, as we all know, is pretty much a freak – for his power, for his agility, and now for his recovery time. The Patriots tight end, who tore his right ACL last December against Cleveland, said he’ll be ready to go for New England’s season-opener in Miami this Sunday.
“Shocking that Gronk is actually allowed to talk about injuries,” Boston Globe NFL writer Ben Volin said on Ferrall on the Bench. “I wonder if he had permission from Bill Belichick or if he’s trying to set a little bit of a smoke screen to the Dolphins this week (and) give them something to think about how much he’s actually going to play. He’s going to play, but he’s still coming off that ACL (injury). So I think they got to take him back a little slowly (and) ease his snap count into it as the season goes along. I mean, he’s going to play – and good for him. That was a tough knee injury he had last December. The surgery was in January. For him to be back Week 1, that’s a real testament to how hard he’s been working and grinding away during the offseason and training camp.”
Gronkowski had 39 catches for 592 yards and four touchdowns in just seven games last season. He has 42 touchdowns in 50 career games but has played just 18 games over the last two seasons.
Now, however, the Patriots have some insurance. They traded offensive guard Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round draft pick. Mankins, a six-time Pro Browler, was set to make over $6 million this season, while Wright will make $495,000.
“It’s interesting; they didn’t have to make this move,” Volin said. “Belichick decided that they were going to move on from their most veteran lineman. The players were definitely pretty pissed off about it. (Tom) Brady was upset. It was kind of a somber practice that day. They felt that he was still the leader of the offensive line, but the Patriots clearly did this move. They felt compelled to do it. They got a tight end that they think can fit in pretty well and do some of the stuff that Aaron Hernandez used to do on the field and supplement what Rob Gronkowski does as well, and they got a mid-round draft pick out of it too. I think they like some of their young kids, but it’s an interesting move to take out your most veteran guy and one of Tom Brady’s real trusted guys literally a week before the season starts. Usually Belichick knows what he’s doing, but this one – we have to watch and see if it’s going to backfire on him.”
In the NFC, meanwhile, Volin doesn’t expect much of anything from the Rams this year, especially after losing Sam Bradford to injury yet again.
“Shaun Hill, I think, is a solid backup, and he’s a guy you’d want to have spot-starting,” Volin said. “But now that you’re asking him to start 16 games, he’ll get exposed sooner or later.”